How One College is Preparing Their Students for a Career in Manufacturing

Woman learning to work with metal

There may be some misconceptions about the manufacturing industry – and Northampton Community College (NCC) is doing something about it.

For many people, and for a variety of reasons, traditional higher education just isn’t in their plans—whether it’s a matter of cost or being eager to jump right into the workforce. Regardless, most people seek employment that provides financial stability.

At the same time, Pennsylvania’s manufacturing industry needs entry-level workers to maintain operations and facilitate growth.

However, more fast-track career opportunities, like in manufacturing, are often overlooked because younger generations tend to be uninformed or misinformed about them. For individuals in the Lehigh Valley who are ready to jump right into training to attain a career in less time, NCC has just the program for them.

You could be a high school graduate or in your 60’s, or anywhere in between.

You don’t even need a high school diploma or GED.

And, you don’t need to be enrolled in credit courses at NCC to take part.

This program creates a cycle that benefits all involved. And it’s clearly working. NCC received funding from the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) this year through Governor Wolf’s Manufacturing PA initiative due to an impressive data collection that showcased incredible results for students and, of course, the hiring successes for the surrounding companies.

Accelerated Manufacturing Placement Training

NCC’s “Micro-credentials in Manufacturing“ program – funded by a grant from DCED –  was developed in coordination with Lehigh Valley area manufacturers like B. Braun Medical, Reeb Millwork, and Sussex Wire. This 180-hour, three-course program gives students accelerated training for manufacturing industry placement through a hands-on, online, and classroom instruction combination.

And don’t let the fact that this is a non-credit program fool you – it is all encompassing. With students having to successfully complete over 50 online modules, read over 3,000 pages of content, and answer 1,137 test questions at 100% accuracy to pass the course, they are getting the preliminary training to get their foot in the door to entry-level positions in the manufacturing industry.

NCC’s state-of-the-art technical lab—the Fab Lab—is where the more hands-on training like assembly skills, hand and power tools, measurement training, and OSHA training come in to play.

Employability Skill Training

NCC truly wants to prepare their students and make them well-rounded for potential opportunities, so another extremely important aspect of the Micro-credentials in Manufacturing training is providing them with employability skill training. This is where they can work on communication skills, participate in mock job interviews, receive assistance resume writing, learn how to work collaboratively with a team, and overall—what will make them a good employee and desirable candidate for a manufacturing company.

And, for more first-hand insight, students have one-on-one time with experienced instructors, can Students using a drill presstour local manufacturing companies to see the kind of atmospheres they may be working in one day, and participate in Employer Day at NCC.

Employer Day offers students the chance to ask questions directly to leadership from surrounding manufacturing companies and hear about career tracks they could soon find themselves on, right from someone who has the power to potentially employ them. It’s also an opportunity to reinforce the messaging of NCC Micro-credentials in Manufacturing instructors.

Downstream Manufacturing Success

Understandably, the surrounding manufacturing industry is benefitting as well, with several Northampton County companies participating in Employer Day, company tours, and employing Micro-credentials in Manufacturing graduates as far back as 2017.

In a letter of support about the Micro-credentials in Manufacturing program from Reeb Millwork, the company said they found that program graduates “had the skills, knowledge, and professionalism that we were looking for in hiring.”

Thanks to the grant from the Wolf Administration, NCC can continue to support 60 students in receiving flexible, technical, and job-readiness training. And as such, the Lehigh Valley area’s booming manufacturing industry will continue to grow, bringing new opportunities to the community and supporting economic advancements.

To learn more about what Pennsylvania’s manufacturing industry can offer you and your company, visit the DCED website. Stay up-to-date on DCED news by following signing up for our monthly newsletter and following us on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.


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